Streets to close for weekend-long history event

PLYMOUTH — If you hear gunshots this weekend, don’t be alarmed: it’s just the Civil War encampment downtown. And if you’ve ever wanted to learn how to throw a tomahawk, you might want to mosey on down and check out the “living history” event sponsored by a partnership between the Marshall County Historical Museum, Encore Performing Arts, and area libraries.
“We are trying to give everyone a sense of the life of the soldier,” said Anna Liechty, one of the organizers of the event.
Parts of Garro and Water Streets will be closed during the three days to allow historical reenactors and their audience a chance to roam free. The event kicks off Friday morning, when busloads of area schoolchildren will visit Plymouth to gain some knowledge on Civil War-era lifestyles.
The event is a major one for Marshall County’s “One Book, One Town” program, a county-wide book club intended to get all residents reading the same book: this year, “Shiloh” by Shelby Foote. The student book selection is “Behind Rebel Lines” by Seymour Reit. The 150th anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh, a conflict involving many Marshall County residents of the time, was Easter weekend, so the living history event had to be postponed until the next week. Admission to the downtown events is free and open to the public.
Travis Childs, from the South Bend Center for History, will set up a mock field hospital for the students Friday during the day. Liechty thinks that students will particularly enjoy this portion of the event because their book is about a woman pretending to be a man in order to serve in a Civil War field hospital.
Saturday will feature a Civil War fashion show put on by Plymouth High School theatre students, beginning at 11 a.m. Guest Hawk Van Lew will do tomahawk throwing demonstrations, while his wife Jill will set up a tent to portray women’s lifestyles at home during the war.
“The Ancilla College academic honors club will be selling ham and beans and cornbread, and some desserts,” said Liechty. “Things that people would have been eating at home, or what I’m sure the soldiers would have like to eat instead of hardtack.”
The roads will be closed partly for the safety of children who will be attending, and partly for the comfort of the reenactors, who will be spending the night at the camp.
During the weekend, there will be loud noises, possibly loud enough to set off car alarms.
“Every hour on the hour there will be something that the reenacts provide” whether it’s a demonstration or Q&A session,” said Liechty.
In all, more than 20 performers will be downtown for the two days. The camp will stay open to the public until 8 p.m. each day so attendees can sit around the campfire and listen to the songs and music. The museum will also be open with a special Civil War exhibit.
For more information, find the “One Book, One Town” page on Facebook, or see information at Marshall County libraries.